What is Bariatric Surgery?

by Rebekah Scott
(last updated May 6, 2010)

Bariatric Surgery is a special type of surgery for patients who are considered morbidly obese. There are many different kinds of bariatric surgery, but the aim of each procedure is to help people lose the weight that they have not been able to lose with diet and exercise alone. There are three classes of bariatric surgery. The first involves restrictive procedures that reduce the amount of food that can be eaten at one sitting. Gastric banding is an increasingly popular option wherein a silicone band filled with saline is surgically placed around the upper portion of the stomach, making the top portion of the stomach significantly smaller and drastically limiting how much a person can eat. During the surgery, a thin tube is put in place that connects the silicone band to a port that is connected to the underside of the abdominal wall. This allows the doctor to inject more saline into the band as time goes by to further decrease the opening from the upper stomach and the lower stomach. This helps patients feel fuller more quickly, so they will be less tempted to overeat. The second class of bariatric surgeries is called malabsorptive procedures, or gastric bypass surgeries. In these procedures the digestive tract is rerouted to bypass a portion of the small intestine. By doing this, all of the calories and nutrients from ingested food are not absorbed as food passes through the intestinal tract. The third class of bariatric surgery is the most common. It combines restrictive and malabsorption procedures to decrease both the amount of food that can be eaten and the amount of calories that can be absorbed by the small intestine. Roux-en-Y gastric bypass is the most common type of combination surgery performed, and so far has the highest success rate of weight loss and maintenance in obese patients. In this surgery the size of the stomach is portioned off into a small pouch through a serious of staples. The bottom opening of this new stomach is then rerouted past the first and second portions of the small intestine called the duodenum and jejunum. Since calories are absorbed in the small intestine, the bypass of these portions of the small intestine makes it so that fewer calories are obtained from the food that passes by. Most types of bariatric surgery can be done laproscopically. This technique allows doctors to make a series of small incisions and use cameras to guide their surgical tools as they work inside a patient. Laproscopic surgery cuts down on the possibility of infections there are no large and open wounds, and recovery time is shorter than in tradition surgical procedures. Though these are the most common types of bariatric surgery, advances in this field are continually made and new procedures are always being developed. Bariatric surgery is a wonderful option that should be investigated and researched fully by interested patients and their family members.

Author Bio

Rebekah Scott

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